When an injured Leonard Fournette skipped LSU's bowl win over Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson's Louisville and an injured Christian McCaffrey skipped Stanford's bowl win over potential No. 1 QB Mitch Trubisky's North Carolina, the world ended.
Remember all the yelling at the time, about these two college students skipping group projects in order to prepare for their professional careers?
The sanctity of games sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings and Hyundai!
Letting their teammates down (despite their teammates supporting them publicly)!
Showing the NFL they don't like football!
Aaaaaaand then both went in the top 10, Fournette to the Jaguars and McCaffrey to the Panthers, which would seem to indicate NFL general managers didn't care much about players with injury issues skipping December bowl games. Maybe the NFL also likes their RBs to have minimal tread on the tires, too.
Add Michigan utility man Jabrill Peppers to the list, apparently, with ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting some teams are concerned about his skipping the Orange Bowl, even though cameras showed him testing out an apparently wounded hamstring before the game. Pretending to be likely to play would be better for the team than announcing a sit-out, since it'd force the opponent to spend time preparing for you anyway (and this is totally what Jim Harbaugh would advise), so if bowl-skipping isn't that big a deal re: the running backs, it should be even less so when it comes to Peppers.
Especially since later in Michigan's bowl, star tight end Jake Butt tore his ACL, as did McCaffrey's QB in the Sun Bowl, less-severe versions of what happened to Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith in the Fiesta the year prior. When even healthy players can suffer crucial damage in these semi-exhibitions that don't even count toward NCAA records, any prospects with any worries should be excused.
So does the NFL care about bowl game attendance? This draft was a good test. And with Fournette and McCaffrey going early, we might ought to expect more bowl absentees again next season.
The only thing we shouldn't expect: anyone to skip a bowl that actually matters.